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Water Work

Internship points the way ahead for Annika Jurgilewicz, ’21

It was in high school that Annika Jurgilewicz first learned of the impending dangers of something called climate change.

“Just hearing about it from my teachers made me care more about the earth and fed my love of nature,” the Pepperell native said.

When she came to Bridgewater State University, she was a tentative business major. That changed after she took her first geology course. “I did really well in the class, and it all fell into place, finding something aligning with my interests,” she said. “In geology I found a way to pursue my goals.”

Last year, Annika earned a Bartlett Scholarship, and over the summer she embarked on an internship with the Merrimack River Watershed Council in Lawrence. With the pandemic keeping so many workers tied to home offices, she was lucky to have been able to get out and do some actual field work.

She captured samples from the Merrimack River and tested them for various chemical levels. It was a part of the internship that led to her envisioning a future for herself.

“That had a pretty big impact on me. It made me realize I really enjoy working in a lab,” said Annika, who is also pursuing a minor in chemistry. “The whole experience made me care about the topic of sustainability even more and confirmed for me that this is the direction I want to go in.”

The other part of the internship involved a literature study, meaning she pored through existing studies on how watersheds can be made more sustainable and, in turn, help the environment. This process also involved interviewing people from various environmental agencies and other watershed organizations.

Because of the pandemic, Annika wasn’t able to get as much lab experience as she hoped, which is why she intends to seek employment in that area before applying to graduate school, where she plans to specialize in glacier- and climate change-related research. “These are such interesting and important areas,” she said.

Bridgewater State University has over the years offered internships with organizations and businesses involved with the environment and sustainability.

Here is a partial list of where students have served these internships:

  • BSU’s Sustainability Program
  • Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
  • Merrimack River Watershed
  • New England Coastal Wildlife Association
  • Town of Bridgewater
  • Town of Middleboro Conservation Commission
  • West Bridgewater Conversation Commission

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